Who Wrote It?
What’s It About?
A sonic time scan lures The Doctor and Leela to Earth. They discover a group of scientists investigating an eight million year old skull. How is it possible that a skull was discovered long before human life had evolved on the planet? And what is the mysterious force that is killing people in the local forest?
Mankind has been used!
At one time, I loved Chris Boucher’s work on Doctor Who. This time around, however, I have not enjoyed his work as much. I still enjoy Robots of Death, but both Face of Evil and now Image of the Fendahl have been underwhelming.
To start with, Fendahl is packed with some interesting ideas:
- A human skull that dates to before humanity existed
- Creatures that have a non-corporeal existence that, once certain energy has been provided, they manifest visibly (this had shades of Lovecraft’s From Beyond)
- An ancient alien race that manipulated the development of mankind so that humans would be in an optimal position to resurrect them
- An elderly woman versed in the “old ways” and her loyal, but disbelieving, grandson
There’s a lot to love in this story, conceptually, but the script is a bit of a mess and we move from idea to idea without exploring anything deeply. When I first watched Fendahl, a few years ago, I loved it. This time, it seemed a disjointed mess. I kept rooting for it, but it never quite came together. I think the story’s greatest strength, however, is the direction. The night shots are excellent, and when the Fendahleen appears in the cliffhanger to episode three, it is lit wonderfully. There were some genuine attempts to make this story work, but the failures fall squarely on the script. It needed to find a core theme and work from that. I would love to see these ideas revisited, perhaps with a full-on Lovecraftian treatment. Although, I doubt we’d see that with Doctor Who in its current form.
Oh, one final thing: Leela looks horrible in this story. I actually felt embarrassed for Louise Jameson.